U.S. News Analysis: The Opioid Crisis Is Here to Stay for Years


An examination of nearly two decades of drug overdose deaths shows that shifts in the year-to-year death toll, marked by relatively predictable peaks and valleys, mask the true magnitude of the opioid epidemic in America, which now appears mired in a deadly new normal for years to come.

Trends that seem apparent in hindsight escaped notice for years, with the failure to recognize a climb in deaths at the turn of the millennium – along with a subsequent slowdown – raising a compelling question: Did policymakers, law enforcement and public health officials miss chances to curb the opioid epidemic before it became a full-blown emergency?